Sheng Cai & the WSO Clearwater Quartet


Pianist Sheng Cai opens the concert with two Scarlatti piano sonatas.  He feels that the first one (Sonata in F minor  K.466) sets the tone for the entire programme. It is very personal and romantic, and a little mysterious. He suggests that we can prepare ourselves by watching it performed by Horowitz —

The second one (Sonata in D major K. 96 La Chasse) is one of Scarlatti’s most popular, and Sheng Cai thought we might enjoy a very fast version performed by George Cziffra —

The Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 is not the authentic string quartet version transcribed by Beethoven as originally promised, but the most commonly heard string quintet arrangement by Vinzenz Lachner (1881) with the identical piano score as the full orchestral version. Nonetheless, it is the first time we are hearing a chamber version of the fourth in Winnipeg.

Sheng Cai loves this concerto and feels that it is very different from Beethoven’s other works in being more inner-looking, mystical and visionary. There are several renditions to explore on you tube.

The second half of the concert opens with another solo by Sheng Cai performing Chopin’s Ballade No. 4, the most subtle and difficult of the four Ballades. For pianist John Ogdon (1937-1989), “…it is the most exalted, intense and sublimely powerful of all Chopin’s compositions; it is unbelievable that it lasts only 12 minutes for it contains the experience of a lifetime.”

Finally, and again for the first time in Winnipeg, we present the chamber version of Chopin’s second piano concerto. In lieu of the original string quartet version as promised, we present the most commonly heard string quintet version, arranged by Paul Waldersee in the late nineteenth century, with the identical piano score as the full orchestral version. Sheng Cai views this concerto, like the Beethoven fourth, as “…very personal, almost heartbreaking, and the quintet version reflects this aspect even better than the orchestral.” On Wikipedia, we learn that Chopin confessed in a letter that the second movement was inspired by his secret passion for a young singer at the Warsaw Conservatory, with whom he had fallen in love and dreamed of for six months without once speaking to her. Heartbreaking indeed.

All the works on the programme are readily available to preview before the concert.

See you soon,